The Theological and Historical Revisionism of John Frame

At the urging of Dr. R. Scott Clark I recently purchased the festschrift for Robert Strimple; The Pattern of Sound Doctrine. While my main reason for purchasing the book was to read Clark’s contribution and his defense of the so-called “well-meant” offer of the Gospel (I hope to have a review of Clark’s article published in the future), I came across the following in John Frame’s contribution to the festschrift dealing with the Clark/Van Til controversy:

On the question of analogy, [John] Murray makes another distinction. Our knowledge of God is analogical, in the sense that our knowledge is ”after the likeness of” God’s own knowledge of himself.   But what we know, the object of our knowledge, according to Murray, is not an analogy, but the truth: “Our knowledge of the truth is analogical, but what we know is not analogical; e.g., our knowledge of that Truth is analogical, but it is not an analogy of the truth that we know.  What we know is the Truth.”  Murray says that if what we know, the object of our knowledge, is a mere analogy, then we do not know the truth at all.

These statements address issues that were raised in the 1940’s controversy between Van Til and Gordon H. Clark. Van Til emphasized that our knowledge of God was analogous to God’s own, but not identical with it, seeking to protect the Creator/creature distinction.  Clark emphasized that our knowledge was the same as God’s own, seeking to prevent skepticism.  Murray’s formulation adds a valuable clarification to this debate: our method of knowing is different from God’s, though “analogous” to it; but the object of our knowledge, what we know, is not an analogy, but truth itself.

The Clark party was willing to say that our way of knowing (they called it the “mode”) is different from God’s. But they wanted to insist that God and human beings could know the same propositions (such as “Jesus rose from the dead”).  Van Til too was willing to say that God and man know the same propositions. In his Introduction to Systematic Theology, he says, “That two times two are four is a well-known fact.  God knows it. Man knows it.” But he wanted to insist that our way of knowing is different form God’s.  On these matters, the most heatedly debated of the controversy, Van Til and Clark actually agreed.  One imagines that if John Murray had urged his distinction on the parties during the debate, and if the parties had listened to him with a teachable spirit, much of the battle could have been avoided [80,81].

At first blush it would seem if Frame is correct the entire controversy which has caused such a deep and lasting division between the respective supporters of Van Til and Clark was much ado about nothing.  Had only John Murray been able to mediate the division between these two men, provided both Clark and Van Til maintained a “teachable spirit,” the watershed that subsequently split the Reformed world in two could have been avoided.

There are a number of problems with Frame’s story, not least of which is Murray’s own argument as Frame presents it and which he culled from the mimeographed notes of one of Murray’s  former and unknown students, is as incoherent and irrational as any of those made by Van Til.  According to Frame, Murray maintains that our knowledge of the truth is analogical, but what we know is not an analogy; i.e., “Our knowledge of the truth is analogical, but what we know is not analogical.”  Not only is Murray’s argument self-contradictory, since our knowledge cannot both be and not be analogical, his conclusion that the object of our knowledge “is truth itself” begs the question.  How Murray arrives at “truth itself” which is “not an analogy” from the idea that our knowledge of the truth is analogical is indeed mysterious.  I don’t know how anyone could be “teachable” enough to embrace such an argument?  Drunk perhaps.

Which brings us to Cornelius Van Til.  According to Frame, Van Til believed in the identity of content between God’s thoughts and man’s thoughts, and, in fact, agreed with Clark.  In Frame’s retelling of things, the real cause of the controversy was Van Til’s insistence “that our way of knowing is different from God’s” and his desire to protect the Creator/creature distinction.  Now, Frame admits that Clark too insists that “our way of knowing is different from God’s,” so what exactly was Van Til protecting?  And, even if Frame is confused by the word “mode,” the Answer to the complaint filed against Clark states that  “Dr. Clark in the transcript [of his ordination examination] says God’s knowledge of a given object is not the same as man’s knowledge of the same object” [emphasis added].  The complaint simply ignored this little piece of information and instead wrongly claimed that “Dr. Clark holds that man’s knowledge of a proposition . . . is identical with God’s knowledge of the same proposition.”

In addition, the position of Van Til and the undersigned in the complaint was that the “how” of God’s knowing does not even relate to the doctrine of incomprehensibility.  In The Answer we read:

The complainants in attacking Dr. Clark’s position are not concerned with knowledge in the sense of the manner of knowing.  They distinguish and they admit Dr. Clark distinguishes between intuition and discursion, but they claim that the manner of God’s knowing is no part of the doctrine of incomprehensibility. The proposition, Two times two are four, apart from anything it implies, means just what it says.  It is difficult, in fact it is impossible to express the meaning of this proposition in any terms simpler than the words, Two times two are four. It is in this sense that the Compliant asserts that such a proposition has two different meanings . . . .

What Dr. Clark said was that though God’s knowledge of a truth is different from man’s knowledge of the same truth, it is none the less the same truth they both know, if indeed man knows anything.  The Complaint avers that it is a prerequisite of ministerial good standing to believe that God’s knowledge and man’s knowledge do not “coincide at any single point” (P.5, 3; O. 21). It tries to set up as a test of orthodoxy the denial that man knows even one truth God knows . . . Far from being a test of orthodoxy, this test imposed by the Complaint is nothing else than skepticism and irrationalism. [The Answer, 20,21].

Before proceeding to the actual language of the actual complaint Van Til and the WTS faction filed against Clark, it is important to keep in mind that “the manner of God’s knowing is no part of the doctrine of incomprehensibility.”  Could  Frame be purposely distorting the facts in the case?  This would make sense simply because he recognizes that if the object of man’s knowledge is only analogous to the truth as God knows it,  then man cannot know the truth — even through the revelation of Scripture and the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit —  but only an analogy of it.  In that case Van Til’s entire philosophic enterprise, along with his own unique understanding of the Creator/creature distinction,  is reduced to skepticism and irrationalism.  Frame also recognizes that it is only on the basis of Clark’s insistence that our knowledge must be at some point “the same as God’s own,” that the charge of skepticism can be avoided.  By claiming  that Van Til actually agreed with Clark, Frame is attempting to rescue Van Til from the philosophic trash heap.

However, the question remains: Is it true that “Van Til too was willing to say that God and man know the same propositions”?   To answer this question we will first look at the text of the complaint Van Til and the WTS faction filed against Clark. The complaint maintains:

If we are not to bring the divine knowledge of his thoughts and ways down to human knowledge, or our human knowledge up to his divine knowledge, we dare not maintain that his knowledge and our knowledge coincide at any single point. Our knowledge of any proposition must always remain the knowledge of the creature.  As true knowledge, that knowledge must be analogical to the knowledge which God possesses, but it can never be identified with the knowledge which the infinite and absolute Creator posses of the same proposition [A Complaint, 5, emphasis added and in the original].

As we can see, Van Til and the rest of the men aligned against Clark emphatically denied any point of identity or any coincidence between the objects of knowledge that God possesses and knowledge possible for man.  The objects of knowledge, and not merely the mode of knowing, are qualitatively different for both God and man.  According to the complaint, there are even two different types of knowledge; one for God and the other for man.  Knowledge for man must always remain “the knowledge of the creature.”  But, since God is Truth, unless man knows at least something that God knows he cannot know any truth at all.  According to the complaint the knowledge which God possesses of  “the same proposition . . . can never be identified” with the knowledge man possesses.  Again, the objects of man’s knowledge, and not simply the way in which man knows,  is the analogue of the objects of God’s knowledge.

The complaint continues:

God’s knowledge is intuitive while man’s is discursive . . .  Man is dependent upon God for his knowledge.  We gladly concede this point . . . . However, this admission does not affect the point at issue here since the doctrine of the mode of the divine knowledge is not part of the doctrine of the incomprehensibility of his knowledge [A Complaint, 6, emphasis added].

The language of the complaint confirms the objection raised in The Answer and that “the manner of God’s knowing is no part of the doctrine of incomprehensibility.”  But what about Frame’s contention that

Van Til too was willing to say that God and man know the same propositions.  In his Introduction to Systematic Theology, he says, “That two times two are four is a well-known fact.  God knows it. Man knows it.”

Perhaps Frame is hoping no one reading his piece would actually open up their copy of Van Til’s Introduction to Systematic Theology (much less read the text of the Complaint along with The Answer), because in the context where the above quote is found Van Til positively rejects the notion that there is any identity of content between the thoughts found in God’s mind (even those  revealed in the propositions o f Scripture) and the thoughts in man’s mind (even as he comes to Scripture).  Van Til makes the exact opposite point that Frame ascribes to him.  Consider the following:

That two times two are four is a well known fact. God knows it. Man knows it. On Dr. Clark’s principles there must be identity of content between the divine and the human minds on such a proposition. If not, he argues, there would be skepticism. Yet in point three [of The Answer] it is asserted that any truth has an infinite number of relationships and implications that man can never exhaustively know. In point two it is said that God knows what he knows by an eternal intuition, and that man can know nothing of the nature of such a manner of knowing. God therefore knows by an unknowable (to man) eternal intuition the infinite relationships and implications (also unknowable to man) of the proposition that two times two are four. At the same time it is asserted that truth is “not independent of God.”

It is this view of things that is substituted for that of the Complaint. The Complaint is said to teach that “the first proposition itself, viz., two times two are four, in its narrowest and minimal significance, is qualitatively different for God.”  To this it is added: “But if they cannot state clearly what this qualitative difference is, how can such an unknown quality be made a test of orthodoxy.”

Suppose now that the complainants [i.e., Van Til & Co.] should try to “state clearly” in Dr. Clark’s sense the qualitative difference between the divine and the human knowledge of the proposition that two times two are four. They would have to first deny their basic contention with respect to the Christian concept of revelation. For to “state clearly” can mean nothing but to “explain exhaustively” unless one presupposes the doctrine of revelation. It is precisely because they are concerned to defend the Christian doctrine of revelation as basic to all intelligible human predication that they refuse to make any attempt at “stating clearly” any Christian doctrine, or the relation of any one Christian doctrine to any other Christian doctrine. They will not attempt to “solve” the “paradoxes” involved in the relationship of the self-contained God to his dependent creatures. It is their contention that without stating clearly, i.e., exhaustively, man can yet truly know the meaning of a proposition [Introduction to Systematic Theology, 2nd Edition, 279,280, emphasis added].

For Van Til to have any identity of content between the objects of knowledge in God’s mind and the objects of knowledge possible for man, even concerning the proposition “two times two is four,” requires that man become God. According to Van Til  even stating any Christian doctrine clearly or trying to show how they might logically cohere would violate his conception of the “Christian doctrine of revelation.” It is for this reason that Van Til refused to answer Clark’s request that he state clearly  exactly what the difference is between the proposition “two times two is four” as God knows it and as man knows it.  Consequently, when Van Til says “That two times two are four is a well known fact. God knows it  Man knows it.” he is equivocating on the word “know.” Once again there is no agreement between Clark and Van Til concerning the objects of knowledge.

Like Murray, Van Til simply begs the question when he asserts that “man can yet truly know the meaning of a proposition.”  That’s because according to Van Til’s “doctrine of revelation” the knowledge of any proposition that God knows is impossible for man unless man knows it exhaustively and as God knows it. Van Til maintains that they, his  followers, simply assert that man can “truly know the meaning of a proposition” without ever clearly explaining, much less demonstrating, how this is possible apart from at least some identity of content or univocal point of contact between the thoughts in God’s mind and those in man’s.

According to Van Til, the objects of knowledge that man possesses are forever the analog of the knowledge God possesses.  To this point Clark argued:

If God has the truth and if man has only an analogy, it follows that he does not have the truth. An analogy of the truth is not the truth; even if man’s knowledge is not called an analogy of the truth but an analogical truth, the situation is no better. An analogical truth, except it contain a univocal point of coincident meaning, simply is not the truth at all. In particular (and the most crushing reply of all) if the human mind were limited to analogical truths, it could never know the univocal truth that it was limited to analogies. Even if it were true that such was the case; he could only have the analogy that his knowledge was analogical. This theory, therefore, whether found in Thomas Aquinas, Emil Brunner, or professed conservatives [guess who – SG] is unrelieved skepticism and is incompatible with the acceptance of a divine revelation of truth. [“The Bible As Truth”]

As mentioned, Van Til is arguing precisely the opposite of what Frame claims.  When Van Til writes that the proposition “two times two is four” means the same thing for God and for man and that he’s in agreement with Clark, nothing could be further from the truth.

If that weren’t enough, consider the following:

For man any new revelational proposition will enrich in meaning any previous given revelational proposition. But even this enrichment does not imply that there is any coincidence, that is, identity of content between what God has in his mind and what man has in his mind . . .  There could and would be an identity of content only if the mind of man were identical with the mind of God. It is only on the assumption that the human mind is not the mind of a creature but is itself the mind of the Creator that one can talk consistently of identity of content between the mind of man and the mind of God (270,271).

Van Til denies any point of contact, any coincidence, any identity of content between “what God has in his mind and what man has in his mind” even as man comes to believe in and receives the divine propositions of Scripture. Even calling the propositions of Scripture “divine” is going beyond what Van Til’s theory permits.  In reality, what man has in Scripture are the analogue of the divine propositions.  The Answer is correct when they insist that what Van Til and his followers consider a test for orthodoxy “is nothing else than skepticism and irrationalism.”

But, Van Til’s unrelenting skepticism and irrationalism  doesn’t stop there.  Van Til writes:

[Man] never has and never can expect to have in his mind exactly the same thought content that God has in his mind (295).

And,

. . .  the Christian position with respect to man’s not knowing at any point just what God knows is based upon the presupposition of the self-contained God of Scripture. And this presupposition is the death of both rationalism and irrationalism. It is the death of both because it alone maintains the full dependence of the mind of man upon the mind of God . . . To say therefore that the human mind can know even one proposition in its minimal significance with the same depth of meaning with which God knows that proposition is an attack on the Creator-creature relationship and therewith an attack on the heart of Christianity. And unless we maintain the incomprehensibility of God as involved in and correlative to the idea of the all-controlling power and knowledge of God, we shall fall into the Romanist and Arminian heresy of making the mind of man at some points as ultimate as is the mind of God (297, 298).

I am frankly at a loss to see how Van Til could possibly express his profound and total disagreement with Clark more forcefully?  Van Til repeatedly and unequivocally denied any identity of content between God’s thoughts and man’s thoughts.  According to Van Til the Creator/creature distinction is such that God cannot even condescend to man even in the propositions of Scripture so that man might know  “even one proposition in its minimal significance . . . . ”

Now, I want to be clear, I don’t think John Frame is a stupid man.  I simply think he is being dishonest and is well aware that he is distorting the record to suit his purposes and fool his readers.  After all, in Frame’s glowing endorsement found on the back cover of my edition of Van Til’s Introduction to Systematic Theology he writes:  “One of Van Til’s two or three most important books, this is certainly a must for anyone who is trying to understand Van Til today.”  Frame is certainly familiar with what Van Til wrote and what he believed concerning the nature of knowledge.  He just chose to ignore it.

As should be obvious, Frame’s resolution of the Clark/Van Til controversy rest on nothing more than unwarranted revisionism and wishful thinking.  To suggest that Frame is either unaware or unfamiliar with what Van Til actually wrote as it relates to his controversy with Clark, and specifically as it relates to the question of whether or not there is any point of identity between the content of God’s mind and the mind of man, defies the imagination. Therefore, when Frame argues “Van Til too was willing to say that God and man know the same propositions,” he is not simply mistaken; he is lying.  And, if he is not lying, then he needs to stop trying to rewrite and whitewash history, abandon his years of myth-making, and publicly repudiate Van Til’s theory of knowledge as nothing more than the skepticism and irrationalism Clark and his supporters have always said it is.

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83 Comments on “The Theological and Historical Revisionism of John Frame”

  1. ray Says:

    Dr. S. Clark is not that far away from Frame in being a confused man in the doctrines he advocates. Consider his replies regarding his advocacy of common grace, the well meant offer of the Gospel, and a love of God for all men, not to mention his hypothewhacked view of the creation narrative. He is a default paradoxial, depending on mystery and contradiction to turn his jelly into a jam. But it is good to interact with Dr. S. Clark so that someday, somehow … he will sit down and think just for what reason he defends and advocates the doctrines he does. As for now his doctrines are out to please men… not the Lord.
    Nothing is impossible for the Lord though 🙂

  2. Gus Gianello Says:

    Maybe the attempt to rehabilitate Van Til is a guilty conscience?

    Gus

  3. Sean Gerety Says:

    You’re right, nothing is impossible for the Lord. And, while I may at times hold out some very slight hope for Scott, since he does give the impression that he really does listen to his opponents (which may just be an illusion and more of an expression of his irenic character than genuine attentiveness), he has built so much of his career and reputation on a dubious, un-biblical and even anti-Christian a priori, that at some point it becomes akin to resurrecting the dead. He has way too much to lose that goes beyond even the embarrassment of admitting that all these years he’s been wrong. Frankly, if Scott were to cross that line and come over to Gordon Clark’s side on the doctrine of incomprehensibility, he’d most certainly be out of a job. And, remember, it’s expensive to live in California.

    FWIW,what this whole debate really comes down to is that little slash mark between the words Creator and creature. For Vantilians like Scott that little “/” is an impenetrable barrier or chasm that even God Almighty cannot cross. God is simply unable to express and convey literal truth about Himself or anything else to his creatures even in the propositions of Scripture. For the Vantilian truth is reduced to analogy, but an analogy of what? Even to ask that question ends, as it must for all Vantilians, in mystical silence.

    This is how men like Scott justify their Arminian and errant exegesis of critical passages in their doctrine of the WMO as they willingly, and with the same irrational religious devotion of some Buddhist engaged in an act of self-immolation, clash head-on with Reformed soteriology.

    And, in case you think I’m guilty of hyperbole, on his blog Scott wrote:

    I don’t understand the problem of paradox, per se. I understand that we cannot multiply them willy-nilly but there are insoluble (for humans) paradoxes.

    This is the result of divine speech to and interaction with humans. If God has archetypal theology (and he does) and if we only have ectypal theology (and we do) and if God is capable of (he is) and willing to use (he is) human language to speak truth but that truth is always accommodated to human finitude, then there will always be a certain degree of falsity in human speech about God.

    Our orthodox Reformed forefathers were very explicit about this. I experienced the limits of human language frequently when teaching the doctrine of God. What we say about God is true but it is not as true as it could be. E.g. We speak of God’s attributes. In truth God doesn’t have “attributes” but we cannot speak about him without distinguish or else we’re left in mystical silence.

    This is an amazing statement of the Vantilian faith and a clear expression of where their underlying a priori and irrationalism must lead. It’s about as close as one can get to sitting cross-legged on a mountaintop chanting “OM.” It also illustrates exactly what the attack Van Til launched against Clark in the 1940’s comes down to; which is nothing less then the complete negation and destruction of all propositional revelation.

    This is why Scott, while trying to goad me into buying the Strimple festschrift, ridiculed me on his blog saying:

    I’m surprised that someone who knows what God knows, the way God knows it, doesn’t know to find a book at a library or via Inter-Library Loan.

    I mean, that really says it all. For Vantilians like Scott no man can ever say he knows what God knows in the way God knows it even as God condescends to us and reveals Himself to us in Scripture. The truth of any proposition (and, remember, only propositions can be either true or false) is always one step removed and what we have in Scripture is essentially a facsimile, but a facsimile of what? Uh-oh, there I go again. OMMMMM….. ;-P

  4. qeqesha Says:

    Gus,
    The attempt to rehabilitate van Til is NOT due to any conscience — these guys do not have any! It is simply part of the smoke and mirrors game they have been playing all these years! They simply come up with anything as it suits the occasion! My guess is that after so many years, many are beginning to feel the pressure from the obvious bankruptcy of believing nonsense! To save face, give van Til a face lift and re-market him. They are simply pathologically deceived! R Scott Clark wrote an introduction to Murray´s Well Meant Offer:
    ¨On the Reformed right (the so-called hyper-Calvinists), there is a strain of rationalism which one finds expressed by thinkers such as Herman Hoeksema, Gordon Clark and John Gerstner, which rejects the doctrine of the Free Offer of the Gospel as Arminian. They are rationalists inasmuch as they reject this doctrine fundamentally because they find it unreasonable. …. G. Clark, Hoeksema and Gerstner lived up to the caricature of Reformed theology.¨
    R S Clark revels in ectyptal and archetypal theology, which is said to distinguish theology as we know it from theology as God knows it. All this is skepticism. For, unless ectyptal theology is the same as archetypal theology, ectypal theology is false for the simply reason that what God knows is truth and therefore anything different from what God knows must be false!
    Frame, who knows van Til very well is indulging in a deliberate game of deceit. His picture should be fitted with a dog´s snout or a pig´s face and left at that.

    Denson

  5. bsuden Says:

    “R S Clark revels in ectyptal and archetypal theology, which is said to distinguish theology as we know it from theology as God knows it. All this is skepticism.”

    Prove the last.
    Ectypal theology is limited, imperfect and revealed. Archtypal theology is immediate, intuitive, infinite and perfect.
    Is there some overlap/do both theologies know the same thing or object, yes. Can we truly know God in Christ? Yes.
    Can we know God the way the three persons in the Trinity have known each other since before eternity began and outside of it? No.

    “For, unless ectyptal theology is the same as archetypal theology, ectypal theology is false for the simply reason that what God knows is truth and therefore anything different from what God knows must be false!”

    You need to distinguish and refine your terms.
    We know what God wants us to know, but we do not necessarily know it in the way he does, exhaustively and immediately, for starters.

  6. Eric Says:

    “Prove the last.”

    The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law–Deuteronomy 29:29.

    EVERYTHING in the Bible is given to us by God so that we may know what God knows exactly as He wants us to know it so that we needn’t speculate. If there is something He has NOT revealed we would be wise to leave well enough alone.

    The problem with the VanTillian false prophets is that they turn the Bible into archetypal theology–paradox. This nullifies the whole reason for revelation and makes God completely unknowable.

    Ignorance of God, cultivated by an unknowable word from Him, as set forth by Vantillians, is the mother of skepticism.

  7. Gus Gianello Says:

    Dear Sean,
    You have emboldened me to speak. I am not irenic. Ironic yes. We are at the twilight if western Christianity–because it is no Christianity at all. I dont dare call the multitudinous “Reformed” religious assemblies in Canada and the USA churches. I have been a Xian for decades and I have an eschatological perception of our modern world. Like Rome in the 5th, we are on the verge of being over run by the Huns, and then “liberal” democratic institutions will disappear under the weight of the urgency and urge develop a fascist response to chaos.

    The “evangelical/Reformed Christianity” that is espoused by multitudes WILL mutate into state-run institutions. For true Christianity to survive, there must be a clash will Reformed/evangelical pretenders and the TRUE elect remnant. An existential and collective chasm must develop, and it should be forced by the believers rather than the professors. I will quote Scottfrom your initial entry

    _________________________________________________
    I don’t understand the problem of paradox, per se. I understand that we cannot multiply them willy-nilly but there are insoluble (for humans) paradoxes.

    This is the result of divine speech to and interaction with humans. If God has archetypal theology (and he does) and if we only have ectypal theology (and we do) and if God is capable of (he is) and willing to use (he is) human language to speak truth but that truth is always accommodated to human finitude, then there will always be a certain degree of falsity in human speech about God.

    Our orthodox Reformed forefathers were very explicit about this. I experienced the limits of human language frequently when teaching the doctrine of God. What we say about God is true but it is not as true as it could be. E.g. We speak of God’s attributes. In truth God doesn’t have “attributes” but we cannot speak about him without distinguish or else we’re left in mystical silence.
    ___________________________________________________

    NOw, WHAT does this man have to teach me. A child who believes in the reliability of human language to communicate transcendental truth is more qualified to teach. Every time a child sings “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so..” there is more of the Spirit of Christ in him than Clark. Clark, I am sure is very religious, just like my brother-in-law te murderer, who is a member in good standing in a URCNA church. But, can a CHRISTIAN say what Clark says? I dont think so, and our refusal to be epistemologically blunt in the characterization of such perverse religious speech is the SAME AS the general church in the time of Rome, refusing to condemn the Arians. Remember Athanasius was successfully excommunicated and banished. He (and those who followed him) for a while in history was the true church, AND the rest of the Christian world were apostates.

    Clark says there “will always be a certain degree of falsity in human speech about God..” Lets be courageous and call that kind of speech what it is–heresy. What have we got to lose. Sure we have to analyze them, interact with them, hold out hope for them, even—God Forbid! talk to them, but we must always always always denounce them. Should I go back to a relationship with my brother-in-law even though he hasn’t repented? OUR apostasy, like everybody elses, happens in degrees. It starts with tolerating lies rather than denouncing them. Then after toleration comes rethinking. Then after rethinking comes the call for compassion. Then after the false appeal to compassion/solidarity comes rapprochement and then reconciliation.

    My wife and I dont give money to any charity, period. I felt a twinge of conscience. After reflecting on it, I realized, I would rather let a million starving children die, then let the name of Christ be dishonoured. In other words, I dont care how many people die, if it doesnt raise up the true gospel of Jesus Christ I want no part of it.

    I want no part of people like Clark. I dont want ANYBODY to get the impression from me, that to be like Clark,that is, to think like Clark is acceptable at all. As far as I am concerned, judging by his stated and unretracted comments, he is no Christian, but just another heretic spreading confusion in the land by his pious sounding mealy mouthed utterances of “humility”. He destroys the uneducated Christians faith in the Scriptures, which after all, is human language. Can anybody derive by “good and necessary consequence” what Scott is REALLY saying about the Bible? And we have the audacity to treat him like a teacher in God’s church? He is either a blithering idiot or a sanctimonious hypocrite. I will not enter into a discussion of which is least harmful to genuine uneducated Christians.

    I’m afraid in this age of declension and hypocrisy that our battle cry should be SEPARATE DENOUNCE AND FIGHT!

    Lastly, I remind you of the charming story of the elder apostle John’s reaction to Cerinthus showing up at a bath-house. John ran from the bath-house naked, crying, “flee for that great heretic Cerinthus is at the bath house, lest the wrath of God bring the bath house down on your head! (paraphrase)

    To all who believe in the genuine Jesus, the trustworty words of the anti-paradoxical Scripture, and the non-nonsense spouting God the Father, a blessed New Year, and growth in the logical wisdom that comes from studying the anti-analogical Word of the Logos.

    Gus

  8. Gus Gianello Says:

    Arch-typical, ectypical, schmectypical. Or better yet b*****t. (you fill in the blanks) I have always been amused by PUBLIC teachers in God’s church demonstrating their vocabulary skills by making their teaching as murky as possible. The dutch, who arent much, have developed it into a very stratospheric art. Van Til, Bavinck, Doeyweerd, and oh yes, the father of Christian Socialism, Kuyper. “fine” distinctions are for the cloister, and the class room. Get a couple of buddies, a few beers, and a couple of good stogies, and by all means cogitate on the meaning of “Ontological epistemology”, “cosmonomic spheres of sovereignty” the epistemological significance of semaphores that exemplify the existential persistent in the first-person singular of Indo-European languages. BUT, DUDE(S) when it comes to preaching and teaching and exhorting that poor schmuck who has to work two jobs to keep his house AND put up with the nonsense he gets from the culture around him, make it as clear as possible without oversimplifying.

    I was a TECHNICAL instructor at Devry, and I learned that the MARK of an excellent teacher is the ability to communicate clearly a complicated process/function or doctrine without oversimplifying and WITHOUT over complicating.

    Gus

    PS. Remember the scholastics, who supposedly argued about how many angels could sit on the head of a pin. You think that if that’s all they talked about or thought about, ANY of them are in heaven? Did condign merit help them, or supererogation?

  9. Sean Gerety Says:

    Ectypal theology is limited, imperfect and revealed. Archtypal theology is immediate, intuitive, infinite and perfect.
    Is there some overlap/do both theologies know the same thing or object, yes. Can we truly know God in Christ? Yes.

    Hi Bob. You are correct and historically that is how the archetype/ectype distinction has been understood. However, Scott Clark argues in the Strimple volume that the historic understanding of archetypal and ectypal theology is precisely that of Van Til’s Creator/creature distinction which is a different animal altogether.

  10. Sean Gerety Says:

    But, can a CHRISTIAN say what Clark says? I dont think so … As far as I am concerned, judging by his stated and unretracted comments, he is no Christian….

    I definitely would not go that far and judge Clark a non-Christian. Christians often do say any number of dumb things far worse than what Clark wrote (I just have to look in the mirror at times). So, while I agree that the a priori or underlying principle that Clark is operating from is anti-Christian and heretical and is a subtle departure from the historic Reformed faith, that doesn’t mean that the man is an non-Christian.

    I think you have to be careful in that in your zeal for the truth you don’t venture into Marc Carpenter territory pronouncing judgment against all those who might (or in Marc’s case, might even not) say stupid things. To assume what a Christian would or would not say is, in my view, a tad presumptuous.

    As a good friend of mine says, we all have our own personal heresies. Similarly, Gordon Clark said we all have our blind spots. We can’t see them of course, that’s why they’re blind spots. 😎 That’s also why we need the rough and tumble of debate and even controversy to, and by God’s grace, even get a glimpse of our own little theological errors so that we might repent.

    FWIW Scott Clark has been an exception amongst other Vantilians I could mention in defending the Gospel against the much more egregious errors found in the FV and NPP. He is even willing to call Richard Gaffin to account when virtually all of his WTS colleagues remain either moot or fawning.

  11. Cliffton Says:

    Sean, could you clarify the quotation below for me please.

    The complaint simply ignored this little piece of information and instead wrongly claimed that “Dr. Clark holds that man’s knowledge of a proposition . . . is identical with God’s knowledge of the same proposition.”

  12. Eric Says:

    Sean,

    I’m not sure I concur with your reasoning in this statement:

    “So, while I agree that the a priori or underlying principle that Clark is operating from is anti-Christian and heretical and is a subtle departure from the historic Reformed faith, that doesn’t mean that the man is an non-Christian.”

    or this:

    “As a good friend of mine says, we all have our own personal heresies.”

    1) First, I don’t agree that the VanTillian a priori principle is subtle. It is blatant, at least to those who have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil as R.S. Clark should have as an instructor of pastors.
    2) Second, God does not separate the adulterer from adultery, how does he separate heresy from the heretic? By definition a heretic is a non-Christian.
    3) Third, we are not all holding on to heresy as none of us would be Christians if we were.

    If you want to call the Van Til a priori principle heterodoxy, or a non-essential doctrine, I would conclude with you that R.S. Clark is in the faith. What I don’t see is how you arrive at his holding to heresy, thus being a heretic, lands him still, in the Christian camp. Isn’t this the same confusion and contradiction you have exposed in Murray? …

    “Not only is Murray’s argument self-contradictory, since our knowledge cannot both be and not be analogical, his conclusion that the object of our knowledge “is truth itself” begs the question.”

    Can one really be both a heretic (non-Christian) and a Christian at the same time?

    Eric

  13. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean, could you clarify the quotation below for me please.

    The complaint simply ignored this little piece of information and instead wrongly claimed that “Dr. Clark holds that man’s knowledge of a proposition . . . is identical with God’s knowledge of the same proposition.”

    Hi Cliffton. This goes to the point that for Van Til unless you know the meaning of any proposition exhaustively and in all its possible implications, i.e., comprehensively, then you can’t know anything God knows.

    Clark did maintain a qualitative difference between God’s thoughts and man’s, he just drew the line in a different place. As The Answer states: “Dr. Clark . .. says God’s knowledge of a given object is not the same as man’s knowledge of the same object.” For Clark man must share at least some of the same meaning of any proposition that God knows, even if not exhaustively, or else knowledge is impossible. Whereas, for Van Til there is no point of contact between any proposition that man knows with those God knows. This is Van Til’s theory of analogy which, as Clark rightly said, leads to abject skepticism.

  14. Sean Gerety Says:

    1) First, I don’t agree that the VanTillian a priori principle is subtle. It is blatant, at least to those who have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil as R.S. Clark should have as an instructor of pastors.

    It may be blatant to those who already see it, but I do think Van Til’s Creator/creature distinction and theory of analogy is a subtle epistemic shift that, while it has very significant and dangerous implications, is somewhat difficult to identify. I can see how those schooled in that perspective might have a hard time seeing the implications of that shift or even that any shift occurred in Van Til.

    2) Second, God does not separate the adulterer from adultery, how does he separate heresy from the heretic? By definition a heretic is a non-Christian.

    I simply don’t think all heresies rise to the same level. I think credo-baptism is heretical, but I don’t think all Baptists are non-Christians.

    3) Third, we are not all holding on to heresy as none of us would be Christians if we were.

    I think all deviations or departures from the revealed truth of Scripture is heretical, but, again, I don’t think all errors rise to the same level. Again, and for example, I think the WMO is heretical, but I don’t think all WMO advocates are non-Christians. OTOH, those who would overthrown JBFA, like those in the FV and NPP movement, are non-Christians only because I believe that the doctrines of justification and imputation hold a special place in the Christian system of faith. Then there are those who seem to hold to the doctrines of FV and NPP who really do not. People may play the hypocrite for all sorts of reasons. Consider the example of Peter in Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

    If you want to call the Van Til a priori principle heterodoxy, or a non-essential doctrine, I would conclude with you that R.S. Clark is in the faith.

    I would agree with that.

    Can one really be both a heretic (non-Christian) and a Christian at the same time?

    How about this, I think someone can hold to some heretical doctrines without being labeled a Heretic and a non-Christian. FWIW I think our disagreement, if we have any, is a matter of semantics.

  15. Cliffton Says:

    Thank you Sean. I understand what it is you are saying. I thought this was what you were saying, but I wasn’t absolutely sure because…

    I was of the understanding that a proposition can only have one meaning. Certainly there are logical implications to the proposition, but this would not imply that there is more than one meaning to the proposition itself. If I am correct, then we ought rather to affirm that our knowledge of a proposition IS identical with God’s knowledge of the same proposition?

    And, as far as your claim that Clark maintained a qualitative difference between God’s thoughts and man’s, I was not aware of Clark making such a distinction. Could you refer me to where Clark has made such a claim?

    On a somewhat related note, I recently read something by Carl Henry that has a bearing on this discussion, and I think answers well the “argument” of Van Tilians, particularly the argument dealing with the man not having an “exhaustive” knoweldge of God.

    Henry states,

    “Unless thought is, in prinicple, all-inclusive, it comprehends nothing universally valid…If religious thought concerns only an undifferentiated totality, it distinguishes nothing” (God, Revelation, and Authority, pg. 234, volume III).

    I believe that Henry is making the point that logic, which is the structure of God’s mind, and consequently the mind of man made in His image, implies that our knowledge of a particular proposition is, in principle, all-inclusive, it is a complete thought. So regarding the meaning of any one proposition, we can know its meaning exhaustively, we can know its meaning comprehensively. No? Yes??

    By the way, excellent article. And I look forward to your critique of Scott’s article as well.

  16. Eric Says:

    Yes! We define heresy differently. I understand heresy to be departure from an essential doctrine of Christianity. Holding to heresy places one outside Christianity. I’ve never heard it used in any other sense.

  17. lawyertheologian Says:

    Neither have I, except for here. Sean seems to use the word to refer to biblical error of any sort. “I think all deviations or departures from the revealed truth of Scripture is heretical, but, again, I don’t think all errors rise to the same level.” But the Church has never so defined heresy that way. And the Bible does appear to use the word to refer to serious anti biblical error that leads one to perdition, adding the word “destructive” to the word. 2 Peter 2:1. You may want to read my article “Heresy,Heretics and False Teachers” at my blog (lawyertheologian.wordpress.com). In any event, Sean is right that your disagreement is semantical.

  18. Eric Says:

    “In any event, Sean is right that your disagreement is semantical.”

    I always hated it when people said that to me ;-). It always seemed to me they were trying to cover a heresy with this tact. I suppose I’ll have to concede on this one. Ho Hum :-).

  19. bsuden Says:

    Hi Sean,
    I agree, my comments were re. Denson’s post, which best I can tell, denied the distinction between ectypal and archetypal. Now that is rationalism.

    When Clark applies the archetypal category to Scripture which is ectypal, ala Van Til, then we got some problems.

    I’m interested to hear your comments on Clark’s article. It had the best bibliography I have seen in the literature, but just like in his RRC, he wants to drag in the arch/ect distinction where it doesn’t belong. Granted the doctrine has been mislaid in the 20th century, but to someone who just stumbled on a hammer, everything is not necessarily therefore a nail.

    And a Happy New Year to All
    (the mouses in the houses)!

  20. Sean Gerety Says:

    Could you refer me to where Clark has made such a claim?

    The quote was from The Answer written by Clark and his supporters in answer to Van Til & Co.’s complaint against Clark’s ordination. I have a really ragged almost unreadable copy. I think Tom is looking into the possibility of publishing the text of the complaint and The Answer as a booklet sometime in the future. It was amazing to read them side by side. It also supports John’s position that the reason for the controversy was because Van Til, Murray, Stonehouse, and the rest of the WTS faculty were out to protect their very UN-Reformed independent status. Clark was evidently in favor of bringing WTS under the OPC’s control. That is certainly much more plausible than the baseless contention by OPC propagandist John Muether that Clark was interested in moving the OPC in a more broadly “evangelical” direction.

    So regarding the meaning of any one proposition, we can know its meaning exhaustively, we can know its meaning comprehensively. No? Yes??

    I believe Van Til does use exhaustive and comprehensive interchangeably. And, yes, Clark, “holds that propositions have a single meaning, the same for God and man. The Complaint evidently assumes that a given proposition has two entirely different meaning. One of these meanings man can grasp; the other meaning God along knows and man has no idea at all of what God means [The Answer, 16,17].”

    To say that one must know the meaning of a proposition (A) exhaustively before he can be said to know it at all, evidently for Van Til this means that unless man knows every possible implication and relationship of that proposition in respect to every other propositions known to God, then knowledge of proposition (A) is not possible. Hence, proposition (A) is analogous, but not identical, to proposition (A) as God knows it. Of course, and as should be obvious, Van Til’s argument is a non sequitur.

    Now, in fairness, I am being charitable in my reading of Van Til. It also seems to be the case that for Van Til the meaning of proposition (A) is completely different for God and man regardless of any implications that might be inferred from it. Van Til is not always easy to pin down. Besides, he is famous for contradicting himself, i.e., giving with one hand what the takes with the other.

    I remember posting on a Van Til list Anderson, Byron, Sudduth and others were on where Van Til condemns Natural Theology as anti-Christian. Of course, they shot back with Van Til’s defense of the classical so-called “proofs” for God’s existence. So, really, and in many places, you can make Van Til say just about anything. That’s why fighting Vantilians can be so slippery. Van Til was a moving target as should be evident from Frame’s imagined agreement between Van Til and Clark.

    By the way, excellent article. And I look forward to your critique of Scott’s article as well.

    Thank you. I don’t know why but I was in some self-imposed rush to get it up and on my blog. I had to revise it once or twice after publishing it just to clean it up (there probably still are typos), but I did add a nice picture of Frame. 😉 The Scott article is done and I’ve sent it to Tom for his consideration.

  21. Sean Gerety Says:

    Granted the doctrine has been mislaid in the 20th century, but to someone who just stumbled on a hammer, everything is not necessarily therefore a nail.

    That’s a great quote! I might steal it. 😉

    I found it interesting that Scott Clark complains that Hoeksema barely touches on the A/e distinction in his Dogmatics and that it’s virtually non-existent in G. H. Clark. Of course, seeing that Archetypal theology (properly understood) pertains to those secret things known to God alone, i.e., those things which He has chosen not to reveal, there really isn’t much to talk about. That certainly would account for the A/e not getting too much attention. Frankly, it really only takes on any real epistemological significance in Van Til’s novel reworking of it.

  22. Hugh Says:

    Sean,

    The slash ‘twixt God and man in Van Til Land reminds us of the barrier ‘tween Kant’s noumenal and phenomenal worlds. Is this a valid complaint of the Tillians — that they so emphasize the transcendence of the Deity that his immanence is lost or cut off for all intents and purposes?

    I was able to read the “original” OPC minutes of complaints and such ad nauseam at WSCAL (then still WTSCA) in ’96-’99.

    Hoeksema’s book is excellent. Sadly, this was not assigned reading when we studied the debate in Frame’s “The Christian Mind” class.

    I had Frame, Kline, and Strimple. I still say that overall I was truly blessed.

    BUT thankfully, I had steeled me wee mind with G.H. Clark and H. Hoeksema (thank you, John Robbins!) prior to attending.

    Speaking of the immanence thing, I remember a chat with a B.T. church Sunday school teacher who rhapsodized on the eschaton. (I DID learn some new verbiage!) I reminded him of the vital import of the incarnation for us to even begin to “get” the archetypal or eschatological. I suppose I sounded too Lutheresque for the PCA, but there you are.

    Scott Clark and Mike Horton joined the faculty in 1997 & 1998, respectively as I recall, but I had neither as profs.

    Hugh McCann

  23. Hugh Says:

    Sean,

    This got lost in translation:

    “Hoeksema’s book _The Clark-Van Til Controversy_ is excellent. Sadly, this was not assigned reading when we studied the debate in Frame’s “The Christian Mind” class.

    Yours,
    Hugh

  24. bsuden Says:

    The Arch/Ect distinction properly belongs in the prologemena to systematics. That’s where it is in Turretin and Bavinck.

    Very much like to see the Complaint and the Answer in print at TFnd. That would seem to be a No. 1 priority imo if TF is going to reprint anything. It is not readily available anywhere for most people.

  25. qeqesha Says:

    bsuden,
    “Ectypal theology is limited, imperfect and revealed. Archtypal theology is immediate, intuitive, infinite and perfect.
    Is there some overlap/do both theologies know the same thing or object, yes. Can we truly know God in Christ? Yes.“

    The Arch/Ec distinction is really a red herring, a smokescreen for the worst kind of satanic attack against revelation and the perspicuity of scripture ever! No Christian(Well, a new Christian perhaps!) needs anyone to explain to them that God knows all things and they don´t and that God never learned anything and our learning is discursive and that the Bible is not everything God knows. But, if we know anything at all, it is the exact same thing that God knows, otherwise we never know anything and revelation is meaningless! My creatureliness, ignorance, confusion or imperfection is not the issue. Truth is the same truth to both man and God. ¨HOW¨ we know(by revelation) does not in anyway change the truth(¨WHAT¨ is known). ¨What¨ is known is what is in God´s mind. It is God who chooses what to reveal to us. God communicates to our minds, what is in His mind, otherwise it is not revelation, but deception.

    To suggest that God´s revelation is ¨imperfect¨ is impious nonsense! Just how do you know that? Did God reveal that to you? If He did, how do you know that this is not just another instance of an ¨imperfect¨ revelation?

    The apostle Paul wrote, ¨We have the mind of Christ¨. What we know(what is revealed to us) is what is in the mind of Christ, the scriptures assure us.

    Denson

  26. Sean Gerety Says:

    Denson, I think what Bob meant by imperfect is that our theology is subject to error. Otherwise, spot on.

  27. qeqesha Says:

    Hi Sean,
    There is perhaps no one in the history of the church amongst true Christians who has ever claimed to be without error. The Pope is no Christian. Hence one has to wonder who the van Tilian is addressing when they carry on about finititude, creatureliness and fallibility. Who does not know that?
    These are the same people who will call believing contradictions bowing to scripture and humility, part of the reasons given being that we are puny creatures and God is the great other! It becomes obvious that their feigned humility is in fact arrogance of the worst kind, an attack against God himself and his revelation. Their use of the same terminology with us must not deceive us! Their epistemology is what controls the meaning they assign to the words they use — and they have different meaning from us!

    Denson

  28. Hugh Says:

    Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

    And, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

    Did Jesus mean approximations, types, antimonies, paradoxes, or “nothing that God knows”?

    For his truth,

    Hugh

  29. qeqesha Says:

    Hugh,
    To add, and did Jesus mean .. analogy, pointers and pictures?
    Denson

  30. Eric Says:

    “It becomes obvious that their feigned humility is in fact arrogance of the worst kind, an attack against God himself and his revelation.”

    Great assessment, Denson!!!

  31. qeqesha Says:

    Dear Sean,
    Gus: “But, can a CHRISTIAN say what Clark says? I dont think so … As far as I am concerned, judging by his stated and unretracted comments, he is no Christian….“

    Sean:“So, while I agree that the a priori or underlying principle that Clark is operating from is anti-Christian and heretical and is a subtle departure from the historic Reformed faith, that doesn’t mean that the man is an non-Christian.”

    Well, Gus has a point.
    The Bible says, Titus 3:10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. …
    And the Law of Cleansing of lepers in the old Testament, Lev 13:46 “All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.”
    2 Thes 3:14 ”And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”
    1 Tim 6:3-6 ”If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”
    2 Jo 1:10-11 ”If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

    van Tilianism is the worst kind of error in that it attacks Christianity where it matters most, at its root, God´s revelation, the Bible. This is diabolical wisdom at its ¨best¨ going for the jugular. If you muddy the source, then the whole stream is polluted. The notion of analogical knowledge, paradoxes, antinomy and contradictions destroys the very idea of truth. Van Tilianism is an affront against God Himself who says He is truth. Don´t be fooled by the pseudo pious statements by van Tilians that ¨never the less we can know God in Christ¨. This is an irrational, non-intellectual, mystical, personal, ¨in Christ¨ knowing, which is unbiblical. Christ said ”He that believes my word has eternal life.” Knowing God is by believing propositions, words! If those words, in the Bible are self contradictory, as per van Tilianism, they are false, and hence not the truth. These are the logical implications of van Tilian epistemology!
    To take RS Clark´s opposition to the FV as a sign of orthodoxy is a joke! Clark has no basis whatsoever to call the FV a heresy, because with his self-contradictory standard he has no basis for calling anything false. He has demonstrated this time and again as the artful dodger, Wilson, has given him the runaround!

    Denson

  32. Sean Gerety Says:

    To take RS Clark´s opposition to the FV as a sign of orthodoxy is a joke!

    Then the joke is on me…as it was on John Robbins. Robbins never even called Van Til a non-Christian and when one confused pastor on the Greenbaggins blog said he did years ago, he strongly denied it. Robbins was also called a “flaming son of Satan” by some well known Internet nut bag who also at one time was even published by TR, for not judging all Arminians “LOST.”

    He has demonstrated this time and again as the artful dodger, Wilson, has given him the runaround!

    Runaround? As far as I know Scott Clark and Wilson have never had any go round at all! Clark has been very critical of Piper’s recent (tacit) endorsement of Wilson and has said on his blog that the CREC is a false church. I’m certainly willing to give Clark the benefit of the doubt even in spite of his Vantilianism. Frankly, I’m amazed that you and Gus have put me in the odd position of having to defend Scott Clark, but I think, while I agree with your assessment of Vantilianism, you are taking things too far.

  33. speigel Says:

    My two cents, and Sean you can tell me if you think I’m off based on your reading of GHClark, is that even GHClark would say you’re wrong in saying that Van Tilians are non-Christian. Honestly, sometimes I wonder if this isn’t going to go the Marc Carpenter route. Honestly, I’m saying this with sadness.

    In addition, like I stated before there is a disconnect with some Clarkians. Based on some standard used by some of the Clarkian commentators, GHClark was a heretic and a non-Christian based on his view of the Incarnation. One could argue that there are some vague definitions in the traditional understanding of the Incarnation but that misses the point. The point isn’t so much about the definition of person (I am not saying it is not important, but only that it is not the current point) but how many of them are there. The traditional understanding sees a SINGULAR
    “person” where GHClark’s definition has TWO “persons.” The fact that there is not one, but two of however we define person is enough to take GHClark out of the traditional understanding of the Incarnation. But do any of these commentators say anything like this against GHClark? No. I seriously don’t understand why. But again, I have said that GHClark’s view can be harmonized with the traditional understanding of the Incarnation. (But no one seems to care.)

    And for one, I am NOT VanTilian. I have to say this because I have been flamed before by Clarkians, even though I’m Clarkian. It’s like no one wants to touch the sacred cow.

  34. Hugh Says:

    @ Westminster Seminary CA, I was called various things by my dear brethren of the Van Til Society. Yes, there was such a thing!

    I especially liked “rationalist deductivist.”

    But to be called “Clarkian” seemed to me too akin to the silly divisions over personalities (Paul, Cephas, etc.) for which Paul upbraided the Corinthians.

    Hugh

  35. speigel Says:

    @Hugh: I first saw the term “Clarkian” while reading from “Clarkian” blogs and posts. The same with the term “VanTilian.” I don’t even call myself Clarkian and only do so for shorthand or to shield myself from flaming arrows.

    Once I complained on this blog about the Clarkian party spirit and I was flamed. You now seem (I may be wrong in my assumption, forgive me if I am) to call me silly for calling myself Clarkian. This is what I call a lose-lose situation for me. At some point, I just have to stop caring.

  36. Sean Gerety Says:

    Speigel, Clark never said Van Til was a non-Christian or any of his followers so far as I know. Neither has John Robbins. Neither have I (that is, with the exception of Vantilians who deny the central truths of the Gospel, specifically JBFA and the doctrine of imputation). So, if I’m wrong and “GHClark would say [I’m] wrong in saying that Van Tilians are non-Christian, I think those making the charge need to prove me wrong or shut up.

    As for the rest of your post, I’ve heard a number of people say they think Clark is lost for any number of reasons along with Dr. Robbins for probably even more reasons. An assistant pastor of a PCA church I attended told me to my face that I wasn’t a Christian because I shared Clark’s understanding of saving faith. So, yes, if you want to come here and call Gordon Clark a Heretic with a capital “H” because he held to a two-person theory of the Incarnation prior to his passing, you’ve made your opinion clear. We got it.

    And, if it’s any consolation, Clark’s view cannot be harmonized with the traditional understanding of the Incarnation. I completely agree. But I also agree with Clark that the traditional one person theory fails to account for all the biblical data. I’m open to argument, so if you think it does, then I’d love to hear it. OTOH, if you think the traditional formulation is sacrosanct, inviolable, infallible, and any deviation from the received dogma means a person is hell-bound, you’ll probably have plenty of company.

    Besides, I’m sure Carpenter could use a few more adherents. After all, any new member will increase his self-eliminating cult from 2 people to 3. That would be progress.

  37. Sean Gerety Says:

    Let me revise this:

    “So, if I’m wrong and “GHClark would say [I’m] wrong in saying that Van Tilians are non-Christian,” I think those making the charge need to prove me wrong or shut up.”

    It should be: GHClark would not say I’m wrong because I have not said that Vantilians, with the exception of Gospel denying FV/NPP Neo-legalists, are non-Christians. I’m sorry, I have difficulty following you at times.

  38. Sean Gerety Says:

    Also, if anyone would like to discuss who is and who is not a Christian, take it somewhere else.

    – The Management.

  39. speigel Says:

    @Sean: I agree with you that GHClark never called any of those you mentioned a non-Christian. That was also my point and thank you for confirming it with your own assessment on GHClark’s reading.

    I’m somewhat confused as to the intent of your comment. I did not intend to convey that GHClark was a Heretic. That is far from what I am saying. I am saying that he isn’t. But based on some of the comments posted on this blog, those commentators would have to say that GHClark was a Heretic. My opinion wasn’t that GHClark was a Heretic for holding to a two-person theory on the Incarnation.

    You assert that GHClark’s theory cannot be harmonized with the traditional understanding of the Incarnation, but I fail to see where you interact with other works by Swinburne or Morris where there is overlap with GHClark and such harmonization is possible. I am assuming you do not mean that GHClark himself could not harmonize the two in his lifetime; I believe I wasn’t speaking to that issue, though you may.

    The two-person theory also fails to take into account all biblical data. Both theories seem to be failures on this account. In addition, I have not asserted that the traditional notion is infallible nor assumed it to be. It is only infallible so far as it reflects what the Bible teaches. I haven’t seen a valid argument to show that the traditional understanding is a failure. It’s like those who argue that Clark needs to know the whole before he knows the part. GHClark was pained in trying to state that he did not believe that. The failure to explain certain biblical datum is also not the same as a failure in it’s definition. Perhaps we just haven’t been able to deduce as much as we can for lack of trying. This is a common argument that GHClark uses and I have decided to use it here. As I have mentioned before, Morris has done much to take into account the biblical data that GHClark may have missed. I think it’ll help the conversation along if you were able to get a hold of the book through amazon or a friend if he has a copy to lend out.

    I’m sincerely confused as to the last two sentences of your comment because I’m not sure if you addressed it to me or to the blog in general. Are you asking me to join Carpenter?

  40. Eric Says:

    “But to be called “Clarkian” seemed to me too akin to the silly divisions over personalities (Paul, Cephas, etc.) for which Paul upbraided the Corinthians.”

    Not exactly.

    The end of Paul’s argument seems to be summed up in these to passages:

    “So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.” 1 Corinthians 4:1

    and

    “Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.” 1 Corinthians 4:6

    Paul upbraided the Corinthians for being sectarian over personality and oratory skills, not doctrine. The difference between a ‘Clarkian’ and a ‘VanTillian’ is a difference over doctrine and I find this distinction akin to a difference between apostolic teaching (Clarkian) as opposed to satanic teaching (VanTillian) when it comes to this debate over revelation.

    The parties in Corinth were a result of carnal motives not spiritual. All the teachers that Paul mentions were teaching the ‘mysteries’ of God not false doctrine–they were apostles and prophets. A division over false doctrine is a good thing. Marking the false teacher and his doctrine is a way to help the ignorant beware. Marking out sound doctrine helps lead the way.

  41. qeqesha Says:

    Sean,
    This may sound unbelievable, but I had Lane Keister in mind when discussing RS Clark. I googled up RS Clark and found out to my horror that I had a different person in mind. I apologise for this confusion!

    I can understand your concern, especially with the empirical evidence of Mark Carpenter. Regardless of the Carpenter phenomenon, one still has to contend with scripture — the verses I quoted above and many more others besides.

    The reason the church has been so easily misled is the failure to obey the word of God in dealing with error! Whether one is a Christian or not should initially not be the issue but the doctrine under consideration. Being a Christian or not should come later, much later when correction has been rebuffed! The Bible says then we must consider them as unbelievers!

    Denson

  42. Sean Gerety Says:

    Speigel, thanks for clearing that up. I misunderstood what you wrote. My apologies.

  43. Pat Says:

    FWIW, I believe Clark would view Van Tillian like Arminians whom he considered “confusedly and blessedly saved” or something like that, though I believe there are some or many Arminians who are not confused at all (Clark may have actually been thinking of Amyraldians who do seem confused), but actually believe a false gospel and deny the true gospel. Again, irrationality is not at the heart of heretical beliefs. Denying what the Scriptures teach and/or claiming for truth what is opposite to its teaching is. For that brings into question the person’s belief that the Bible is the Word of God.

    Robbins did claim that Van Til’s one person view of God is heretical. But again, Van Til never denied that He is three persons. He was confused. For no sane person believes a and not a. Van Til couldn’t see that to believe that God is one person is to believe that God is not three persons.

    I agree that if more of these teachers were brought into account, they would either recant/repent or they would end up being put out of the church and be treat
    ed as unbelievers.

    “The two-person theory also fails to take into account all biblical data.”

    Prove it. I believe Clark dealt sufficiently with the Bible’s texts. BTW, who are the Morris and Swinburne you refer to and what books of theirs are you referring to?

  44. Eric Says:

    “I agree that if more of these teachers were brought into account, they would either recant/repent or they would end up being put out of the church and be treat
    ed as unbelievers.”

    And this leads directly into a discussion of the marks of a true Church.

  45. Pat Says:

    Yes, but even a true Church can fail at times to (properly) discipline. The OPC and PCA with all of its procedures and legal wranglings in its attempt to be fair end up making more a mess of things, though I would not say that they are not true Churches.

  46. Sean Gerety Says:

    “The two-person theory also fails to take into account all biblical data.”

    Prove it.

    Speigel made the point on a previous thread that the Scripture is silent concerning any communication between the “two persons,” a problem Clark acknowledges and perhaps overcomes.

    Beyond that, keep the comments on topic please. I don’t want to shutdown another combox because of some rabbit trail. Thanks.

  47. Pat Says:

    “Both theories seem to be failures on this account. In addition, I have not asserted that the traditional notion is infallible nor assumed it to be. It is only infallible so far as it reflects what the Bible teaches. I haven’t seen a valid argument to show that the traditional understanding is a failure.”

    Clark’s book “The Incarnation” shows that the traditional understanding of Christ as two natures is a failure. Beyond the fact that the Creeds do not clearly define nature and person, the basic argument is that there is no such thing as an unattached nature; natures are the things that define persons. Both God and men are persons, and thus to be both is to be two persons. The fundamental problem we have, which Clark’s profound mind broke though on, is that we think of the God/Man as having an overarching mind that controls the two minds. Rather, we should simply think that whatever can be said of either of the two minds we can attribute to the unit God/Man. Thus, the God/Man knows everything insofar the Logos knows everything; And the God/Man hungered insofar as the Man hungered, etc.

  48. Pat Says:

    “Speigel made the point on a previous thread that the Scripture is silent concerning any communication between the “two persons,” a problem Clark acknowledges and perhaps overcomes.”

    Yes, indeed.

    Beyond that, keep the comments on topic please. I don’t want to shutdown another combox because of some rabbit trail. Thanks.

    Sorry about that Sean. I just couldn’t resist. Anyone interested can follow up on my blog where I’ve written an article on the subject.

  49. Hugh Says:

    ERIC: “Paul upbraided the Corinthians for being sectarian over personality and oratory skills, not doctrine.”

    True enough; and we don’t want to be following either CVT or GHC as such; we want to follow their doctrines as they leads to God’s word. Thankfully, personal loyalties to GHC & CVT are decreasing, as students who studied directly under either of them are becoming rarer. Hopefully, it’s just the doctrine that we judge.

    ERIC: “The difference between a ‘Clarkian’ and a ‘VanTillian’ is a difference over doctrine and I find this distinction akin to a difference between apostolic teaching (Clarkian) as opposed to satanic teaching (VanTillian) when it comes to this debate over revelation.”

    I’m sure Paul’s, Cephas’, & Apollos’ followers all said the same.

    With all due respect, Eric, your wording sounds dangerously close to the very thing Paul condemns in 1 Cor 1 & 3. Most if not all of us on this thread (I think) are calling neither Clark or Van Til or Clarkians or Van Tilians ‘satanic.’ Sean made the point that neither he, nor Clark, nor even John Robbins, who ripped CVT like no one else, called him ‘satanic.’

    ERIC: “The parties in Corinth were a result of carnal motives not spiritual.”

    Of course, but this certainly can be the case with our vaunting of either CVT or GHC.

    ERIC: “All the teachers that Paul mentions were teaching the ‘mysteries’ of God not false doctrine–they were apostles and prophets. A division over false doctrine is a good thing. Marking the false teacher and his doctrine is a way to help the ignorant beware. Marking out sound doctrine helps lead the way.”

    Yes, ‘whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas’ (1 Cor 3:22), all these are portrayed in Scripture as faithful men. Not without warts, but reliable teachers of God’s word. And certainly, one can claim no better teacher than Christ himself (1:12)! Yet the inspired apostle warned the Corinthians not to be led away by any party’s spirit.

    Given Sean’s reminder that this thread is in danger of going on a rabbit trail, I’ll discuss this above topic in email, if anyone wishes.

    Yours for Christ,

    Hugh McCann
    hughmc5 @ hotmail.com

  50. Hugh Says:

    Der Speigel,

    The guys calling me ‘Clarkian’ were silly, as well for calling themselves ‘The Van Til Society”! I prefer the term “Biblicist” for the former.

    I should do the same for my so-called ‘Calvinism,’ were I consistent. Preferable is the phrase, ‘doctrines of sovereign grace.’

    You said, “I don’t even call myself Clarkian and only do so for shorthand or to shield myself from flaming arrows.”

    Huh? You ‘don’t even’ but sometimes you do? How about ‘Biblicist,’ following Clark where he follows Christ? Paul demanded no more from his students.

    I’d bet Clark would like ‘Clarkian’ about as much as Calvin appreciated the term ‘Calvinist,’ and Luther did ‘Lutheran’ for those following their doctrines.

    Yours,

    Hugh

  51. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean made the point that neither he, nor Clark, nor even John Robbins, who ripped CVT like no one else, called him ’satanic.’

    Just to be clear, I’m not opposed at all to calling VT’s epistemology and doctrine of revelation “satanic.” I agree with those who argue that it undermines all propositional revelation and leads inexorably into abject skepticism. I’m just not willing to say that Van Til was a non-Christian.

    The example I have in mind is Matthew 16:17 where Jesus calls Peter, blessed, but only 6 verses later Jesus rebukes Peter saying: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

    Vantilians like Frame, Scott Clark, and all the rest of them need a stern rebuke and may the Lord deliver it.

  52. Hugh Says:

    Thanks, Sean. As you said (I shoulda quoted ya!) to Speigel,

    ‘Clark never said Van Til was a non-Christian or any of his followers so far as I know. Neither has John Robbins. Neither have I (that is, with the exception of Vantilians who deny the central truths of the Gospel, specifically JBFA and the doctrine of imputation). So, if I’m wrong and “GHClark would say [I’m] wrong in saying that Van Tilians are non-Christian, I think those making the charge need to prove me wrong or shut up.’

    Amen. That’s what I meant by ‘satanic,’ and what I feared Eric was saying.

    I appreciate your clarification.

    Hugh

  53. Eric Says:

    “Hopefully, it’s just the doctrine that we judge.”

    I was contending for a bit more than this. Let’s not forget, God does not separate the false doctrine from the teacher…per James.

    “With all due respect, Eric, your wording sounds dangerously close to the very thing Paul condemns in 1 Cor 1 & 3. Most if not all of us on this thread (I think) are calling neither Clark or Van Til or Clarkians or Van Tilians ’satanic.'”

    The VanTillian teaching of our knowledge being only analogical concerning God is indeed a doctrine of demons. Teaching this doctrine is perpetrating a doctrine of demons. All false teaching comes from Satan.

    “Yet the inspired apostle warned the Corinthians not to be led away by any party’s spirit.”

    It is not a party spirit to denounce false teaching or those who teach it, nor is it a party spirit to commend those who hold and teach apostolic teaching.

    Because there may be a party spirit does not preclude the pronouncement of truth just as antinomianism doesn’t negate the proclamation of the gospel.

    “Given Sean’s reminder that this thread is in danger of going on a rabbit trail, I’ll discuss this above topic in email, if anyone wishes.”

    I’m not sure I see us going off topic. Wasn’t this topic about Clark and Van Til and the controversy concerning revelation?

  54. Cliffton Towne Says:

    Sean wrote: It also supports John’s position that the reason for the controversy was because Van Til, Murray, Stonehouse, and the rest of the WTS faculty were out to protect their very UN-Reformed independent status. Clark was evidently in favor of bringing WTS under the OPC’s control. That is certainly much more plausible than the baseless contention by OPC propagandist John Muether that Clark was interested in moving the OPC in a more broadly “evangelical” direction.

    Cliffton: I wouldn’t mind seeing this avenue pursued a bit. Strange isn’t it, that those who oppose the Truth are usually those who charge their opposition with departing from the Faith once delivered? But then again, maybe it isn’t so strange,

    “Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and [against] God. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon [him], and caught him, and brought [him] to the council, And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:” (Acts 6:11-13).

  55. qeqesha Says:

    Hi Pat,
    “Again, irrationality is not at the heart of heretical beliefs. Denying what the Scriptures teach and/or claiming for truth what is opposite to its teaching is. For that brings into question the person’s belief that the Bible is the Word of God.“

    This quote seems to contradict itself.
    As far as I see it, van Tilianism[irrationality] “claims for truth[about the nature of revelation, the Bible] what is opposite to its[the Scriptures] teaching[about itself]“ and this[irrationalism] “brings into question the person´s belief that the Bible is the Word of God.“

    Denying the truth, either by impugning its nature[by adopting a false epistemology such as irrationalism or Aristotelianism(ala Thomas Aquinas)] or by teaching against its explicit contents[attacking particular doctrines] is all the same thing, irrationalism.

    Hence [denial of the truth]irrationalism is at the heart of heretical beliefs.

    Denson

  56. speigel Says:

    @Hugh:
    I am unsure as what you want to convey through your last post to me. I am saying that I don’t think of myself primarily as Clarkian. I think of myself as Christian. I use to term Clarkian only when it better clarifies to others my position. Like I said, I am using borrowed language. I didn’t come up with the term “Clarkian.” I have no necessary problem with the term itself. It is helpful at times. That’s all I have to say about it. I hope his post is as clear as it can be. If not, then I can’t help any further.

    @Sean:
    Thanks for understanding my mistake and I’m glad to be side to side on many issues.

    @Pat:
    I wrote a comment on your blog.

  57. Eric Says:

    “Strange isn’t it, that those who oppose the Truth are usually those who charge their opposition with departing from the Faith once delivered?”

    I think Luther made the statement that pronouncements (charges) fly in both directions–from the true church and from apostates, and always will. We shouldn’t shrink in the midst of such vehemence, it is our job to know the truth and side with the scripture and those proclaiming the truth.

    The church is called to make such pronouncements by God, it is part of church discipline. If it doesn’t, it is not acting as a true church.

    Apostates will make pronouncements, but in the end their charges are erroneous.

  58. qeqesha Says:

    Eric,
    ”The church is called to make such pronouncements by God, it is part of church discipline. If it doesn’t, it is not acting as a true church.”
    Absolutely right!
    The present practice by some so called Christian leaders of detracting from the real issues in defense of the gospel by referring to the supposed poor deportment(tone) of those who are engaged in its defense and sympathizing with errorists as brothers and sisters in Christ betrays their lukewarmness or even apostasy. The modern average Christian leader it would seem, has no concept of truth and God´s Holiness. They have no vision of the God of Israel that the prophet Isaiah saw in the year King Uzziah died. Isa 6:1-13. They have not known the majesty of the eternal God. They are just religious zealots or as Jesus said, ¨Blind leaders of the blind¨. God says He is a jealous God! The Church is his bride which He purchased with His blood and everlasting love. Dare anybody mislead her and deceive her with feigned pious words? Will such an one escape God´s justice and vengeance upon those that have not loved the truth but have embraced the lie?

    Denson

  59. lawyertheologian Says:

    “As far as I see it, van Tilianism[irrationality] “claims for truth[about the nature of revelation, the Bible] what is opposite to its[the Scriptures] teaching[about itself]“ and this[irrationalism] “brings into question the person´s belief that the Bible is the Word of God.“”

    I’m not sure that’s true. Unless Van Tillianism claims that it is in the nature of revelation to be contradictory (not that it can appear to be contradictory) it does not appear to assert contrary to what the Bible asserts about itself, that it is the truth, and thus cannot actually contradict itself.

  60. qeqesha Says:

    Pat,
    Van Til, he say,
    ¨[Man] never has and never can expect to have in his mind exactly the same thought content that God has in his mind¨

    Denson

  61. Pat Says:

    Denson, I don’t know what you believe that quote is supposed to show.

  62. Eric Says:

    “As far as I see it, van Tilianism[irrationality] ‘claims for truth[about the nature of revelation, the Bible] what is opposite to its[the Scriptures] teaching[about itself]’ and this[irrationalism] ‘brings into question the person´s belief that the Bible is the Word of God.’”

    Yes!

    Roman Catholicism, out of one side of its mouth, just as the Pharisees, negate the word of God through their traditions while out of the other side of the mouth profess the Bible’s authority.

    They don’t REALLY believe it to be the Word of God since they are fighting against it, adding to it what God has not authorized. Jesus makes this as plain as day.

    In the same way, the VanTillian, negates the Word of God by teaching that the Scripture,revelation that God gave to man so that man would KNOW (have the same thought God has) God, is analogical and paradoxical. In other words, the VanTillian says exactly what the serpent in the garden said, “Did God really say…”

  63. Pat Says:

    I don’t think it is really fair to say that the Van Tillian is like the RC (or the liberal who claims the Bible contains errors). And certainly the Van Tillian does not say “EXACTLY what the serpent in the garden said, “Did God really say…” (emphasis added). For he (the Van Tillian) does not twist or otherwise deny the meaning of Biblical statements. He does not deny that God did say (and mean) for man not to eat of the tree, and many other things. He simply adds more meaning in the mind of God, that God either can not or will not reveal to us.

  64. Sean Gerety Says:

    [The Vantillian] simply adds more meaning in the mind of God, that God either can not or will not reveal to us.

    Gee, some might actually think that adding “more meaning” would change the meaning and is nothing more than twisting and denying the very meaning God intends to convey. I won’t even ask about what God “can not” reveal to creatures made in His imagine.

    Pat, I confess, it’s statements like the one above that make it pointless to discuss or debate anything with you and why I avoid it. You state that Vantilians do not twist or “deny the meaning of Biblical statements” and then argue that they do. Next you’ll complain that I’ve misunderstood and threaten to sue me for libel, blah, blah. You are the Python Argument sketch. =8-()

  65. Pat Says:

    Sean, if you are to be consistent, then you have to say that Van Tillians are heretics and not Christians.

    You make a point of saying that not all heresy means anti Christian, that Van Til should not be considered a non Christian, I back you up and provide clear precise distinctions, and now you fault me because you can’t see the distinctions. What gives?

  66. Pat Says:

    Gee, some might actually think that adding “more meaning” would change the meaning and is nothing more than twisting and denying the very meaning God intends to convey. I won’t even ask about what God “can not” reveal to creatures made in His imagine. ”

    Sean, I would think you understand clearly the nature of Van Til’s view of the incomprehensibility of God. The meaning, according to Van Til and his followers, is different with us and God. But again, it does not deny that how we understand the statement is not contrary or contradictory to how God understands it. Don’t ask me how that can be. It seems mystical to me. And I have no idea why it should be that God cannot reveal something that is in His mind. Van Tillians seem to claim such because of God’s infiniteness, or that somehow if He could, it would mean that He and us would become on the same level. I would say that even if God revealed all of His thoughts to us it wouldn’t make us like God; for our knowledge would still be discursive: his thoughts are true because He thinks them, our thoughts are true only if we think God’s thoughts after Him.

  67. Pat Says:

    “Gee, some might actually think that adding “more meaning” would change the meaning and is nothing more than twisting and denying the very meaning God intends to convey.”

    Again, the “more meaning” is only in the mind of God. And it is not something God intends to convey.

    BTW, my above comments indicate that omniscience is more than knowing all things; it is that all things are true that one thinks because one thinks them.

  68. Eric Says:

    “And certainly the Van Tillian does not say ‘EXACTLY what the serpent in the garden said, “Did God really say…For he (the Van Tillian) does not twist or otherwise deny the meaning of Biblical statements.”

    When knowledge is made analogical and paradoxical this is exactly what is being done, for the VanTillian teaches man cannot have the same thought in his mind that God has in his. This destroys scripture and the meaning of revelation. This is the trend toward an elite clergy that will interpret scripture for us–the road to Rome. Cavil away, you have been warned.

  69. Gus Gianello Says:

    Sean,
    whoa buddy!
    _____________________________________________________
    Frankly, I amazed that you and Gus have put me in the odd position of having to defend Scott Clark, but I think, while I agree with your assessment of Vantilianism, you are taking things too far…
    ____________________________________________________

    You don’t have to defend RS Clark to me. You do have to understand where I come from. My specialty is cult theology. I know more about the occult, and Mormonism that most Mormons or new agers do! To me the distinction between error and heresy is VERY important; in fact so important that it is the epistemological marker between being in the circle of orthodoxy and being outside of it. In axiomatic form:

    All heresy make you a heretic and unsaved
    All error makes you a sinner.

    The Seventh Day Adventist Church is error but YOU CAN be a Christian–though inconsistently so. Mormonism is a heresy. You can not be a Mormon (or Roman Catholic, or Emergent Church member, etc., etc.,) and be a Christian.

    Also when I accuse someone of not being a Christian it is never out of passion or zeal, it is out of a consideration as to whether heresy is being espoused. Not a heresy which is veiled in arcane language, not heresy which must be strained out with a seive from multitudes of public pronouncements. But blatant heresy which everyone but the heretic can see.

    Also, heresy is an existential charge. In other words I WANT to be proven wrong. But in that moment in time, if the citation is accurate, and in context I MUST judge according to the plain meaning of what is said, not give a “benefit of the doubt” to a clearly stated proposition that must be rejected.

    There is a psychology to heresy, and I would be happy to explain it offlist–I dont want to take up alot of your time. But I assure you:
    1. I dont use the word lightly. I fellowship with a Baptist brother–he’s not a heretic.
    2. I would never make such a statement about an individual if it was uncalled for or there was no clear indication of being well deserved.
    3. When I make such a statement it is to provoke a response, either from the adjudged individual, or those who give him credence, to prove me wrong.
    4. I can be wrong, and sometimes am wrong, but I believe that the times we live in require that we be more forceful.

    For those who want a fuller explanation

    dr dot gus dot gianello at rogers dot com.

    Its important that you dont misunderstand me Sean, because I value your contributions and friendship

    Gus

    PS I remember Mssr. Carpenter well. What a nutjob. Of course you can be an Arminian and be saved. But, you can’t be a consistent arminian and be saved. And its our responsibility to point that out, and press home the logic. Ah, blessed inconsistency!

  70. lawyertheologian Says:

    “When knowledge is made analogical and paradoxical this is exactly what is being done, for the VanTillian teaches man cannot have the same thought in his mind that God has in his. This destroys scripture and the meaning of revelation. This is the trend toward an elite clergy that will interpret scripture for us–the road to Rome. Cavil away, you have been warned.”

    No one here is denying the destructiveness of Van Tillianism, nor what it will/could lead, so there’s no need for such a warning.

  71. lawyertheologian Says:

    “Of course you can be an Arminian and be saved. But, you can’t be a consistent arminian and be saved.”

    Yes, and that is why I was a bit disturbed by Clark’s broad statement concerning Arminians. In fact, when pressed by logic, most “inconsistent” Arminians will end up choosing the false Armininian teachings and deny Calvinism/Calvinistic teaching.

  72. Eric Says:

    “He does not deny that God did say (and mean) for man not to eat of the tree, and many other things. He simply adds more meaning in the mind of God, that God either can not or will not reveal to us.”

    No, the VanTillian turns scripture, what God HAS revealed, into the unknowable, what God HAS NOT revealed, through the doctrine of paradox and analogy. This is exactly the temptation of the serpent–God doesn’t really mean what He says, or, you can’t really know what God means.

    I suppose since the VanTillian doctrine of analogy is an attempt to tamper with and revise scripture, then it is no surprise that a VanTillian, Frame, tries to revise history.

  73. Sean Gerety Says:

    All heresy make you a heretic and unsaved
    All error makes you a sinner.
    ….1. I dont use the word lightly. I fellowship with a Baptist brother–he’s not a heretic.

    So, you stand by your statement that in your view Scott Clark is a non-Christian?

    Also, credo-baptism is heretical at least in light of the Reformed Confessions. Now, you and others may not like the use of the word “heretical” and prefer “error,” but I’m at a loss as to why you or anyone would think the word “heretical” when applied to certain errant teaching makes someone necessarily a non-Christian and a Heretic (capital H)?

    Do you not read Trinity Review? There are many examples where the word heresy has been used to identify false teaching, but since we’re talking VT and their fellow travelers, John wrote: “[Van Til] makes such serious errors that heresy is the only appropriate word to describe his lifelong teaching about God and the Bible.” Yet, nowhere does John call Van Til, despite his heretical teachings in certain critical areas, a non-Christian.

    Even Vantilian Lane Keister has used the word as I have. Lane writes:

    “The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word this way: “Theological or religious opinion or doctrine maintained in opposition, or held to be contrary, to the ‘catholic’ or orthodox doctrine of the Christian Church, or, by extension, to that of any church, creed, or religious system, considered as orthodox.” I have been using the term in this “extension” manner as an opinion that contradicts the Westminster Confession of Faith.”

  74. Pat Says:

    “No, the VanTillian turns scripture, what God HAS revealed, into the unknowable, what God HAS NOT revealed, through the doctrine of paradox and analogy. ”

    Can you show how through paradox and analogy, Van Tillianism’s claim that God having not revealed fully becomes itself unknowable? I just don’t think this follows from Van Til’s actual claim(s).

    “I’m at a loss as to why you or anyone would think the word “heretical” when applied to certain errant teaching makes someone necessarily a non-Christian and a Heretic”

    Because that is and has always been the Church’s use/understanding of the term. Even your Oxford Dictionary’s definition implies such. And again, it seems to be the nature of the Bible’s use of the term.

    “Do you not read Trinity Review? There are many examples where the word heresy has been used to identify false teaching, but since we’re talking VT and their fellow travelers, John wrote: “[Van Til] makes such serious errors that heresy is the only appropriate word to describe his lifelong teaching about God and the Bible.” Yet, nowhere does John call Van Til, despite his heretical teachings in certain critical areas, a non-Christian.”

    JR made it a point not to focus on personalities and/or labels regarding individual, but rather focused on the nature of the person’s teaching. But I think in the above case regarding Van Til, the implication is that JR thought Van Til to be a heretic and thus a non Christian. I doubt that JR meant by heretic one who teaches contrary to the WCF.

    In any event, I think we are aware of clear cut cases of heresies and heretics, anti Christian theology and non Christians who believe such theology. Van Til/Van Tillianism is not such a case. And I don’t think it is all that beneficial to argue over whether it is or isn’t. I think Van Tillianism isn’t heresy and that those who profess are not to be thought of as non Christian. And I think I’ve presented a clear precise distinction to show why I believe that is the case. Formerly, I agreed with JR that Van Til held a heretical view of the Trinity. Now, I don’t think so based on how I’ve described/distinguished heretical doctrine from all other erroneous views.

  75. Sean Gerety Says:

    JR made it a point not to focus on personalities and/or labels regarding individual

    And neither have I. Now move on.

  76. Pat Says:

    Gladly.

    BTW, it seems to me that Van Til and others were not clear on what they meant by content in God’s mind. Obviously, all of what’s in His mind is never the same as what is in our mind. But as to a particular statement, and the truth it proclaims, the content must be similar. As to all of a statement’s implications and relationships to other statements or thoughts in God’s mind, such doesn’t change the basic meaning or truth the statement declares. Van Til and others thought/think that meaning and truth must be comprehensive or exhaustive in order for there to be coincidence on a single statement. That is simply not the case.

  77. Sean Gerety Says:

    BTW, it seems to me that Van Til and others were not clear on what they meant by content in God’s mind.

    What others? Clark was clear.

    But as to a particular statement, and the truth it proclaims, the content must be similar.

    No, they must be the same or knowledge of anything is impossible.

  78. Pat Says:

    “What others? Clark was clear.”

    Others like Van Til.

    “But as to a particular statement, and the truth it proclaims, the content must be similar.”

    “No, they must be the same or knowledge of anything is impossible.”

    Yes, that’s what I meant by similar content.

  79. Eric Says:

    “Can you show how through paradox and analogy, Van Tillianism’s claim that God having not revealed fully becomes itself unknowable?”

    This is clear obfuscation on your part, and you’re hoping no one will see this slight of hand, it’s not surprising, though, coming from a lawyer.

    No one is debating what God hasn’t revealed, this we clearly cannot know. The debate is over turning what God has revealed, the scripture, into something unknowable. This, the VanTillian does.

  80. ray Says:

    Dr. G. Clark wrote a little book about God and evil – the problem solved. It is a great little book. Clark stated that if arminians were logically consistent with the Word of God, they would cease being arminians. I hold out the same hope for those who advocate the doctrine of C. Vantil with regards to the well meant offer, common grace, and a love of God for all men.
    That’s it in a nutshell for me … for men who try to posture themselves as logical, rational , moral creatures … they contradict themselves time and again in debate with crap like the A/e to justify their inconsistent teachings that inject arminianism into the doctrinal topic at hand.
    I guess that’s why when in debate I cannot be easy on them, they ought to know better … and they ought to be re reading the history of the remonstrants prior to the Synod of Dortrecht and the paradox and contradiction they used to try and dupe the masses, thinking they were doing the Lord a great service.

    I would agree with Dr. S Clark in NOT recommending the CREC as a “reformed” church congregation to visit on vaction or holidays. You might as well go to “Harvey’s” and get it made your way.

  81. qeqesha Says:

    Hi Pat,
    Sean: “No, they must be the same or knowledge of anything is impossible.”

    Pat: ‘Yes, that’s what I meant by similar content.’

    Wow!! Is this you Pat or an evil impersonator? 🙂

    Denson

  82. Pat Says:

    It’s me.


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